News and Tribune

February 20, 2013

Mall, Marines want to move forward following Facebook backlash

Recruiters claim they were notified they were violating no-solicitation policy

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

CLARKSVILLE — An encounter between Green Tree Mall security and U.S. Marine Corps recruiting officers that took place around the first of the year set the social media website Facebook abuzz in recent days.

While no one has been able to determine the exact date of the occurrence, in late December or early January, mall security approached two to three Marines in the food court to inform them they had violated the facility’s no-solicitation policy, according to marketing and public affairs representative Sgt. Daniel Angel.

Angel said the Marine recruiting officers informed him that they were asked to leave the facility by Green Tree Mall security.

He said the recruiting officers were speaking with several potential applicants in the dining center, but he wasn’t sure if the Marines approached the applicants, or vice-versa. 

Mall officials said that is not the case.

Green Tree Mall Marketing Manager Heather Edge said no Marine recruiting officers were asked to leave the mall.

Edge said she was not even aware that the exchange took place until Tuesday, Feb. 19, about the time the topic took off on the mall’s ShopGreenTreeMall Facebook page, where several people posted their outrage at the idea that the mall would ask servicemen to leave the building.

“The stuff on Facebook is not true,” said Edge, who called the controversy “a huge misunderstanding.”

She said that military recruitment officers are welcome in the mall, but are required to conduct recruitment in a structured manner.

“We do ask that they coordinate through the mall management office,” Edge said.

Green Tree Mall added its own comment to the conversation on Facebook.

“Green Tree Mall fully supports all military, active and retired, and welcome them as guests to our property anytime. We are working with our local recruiting office on opportunities to recruit future military personnel,” read a comment posted about noon.

Green Tree Mall Senior Property Manager Helen Bryant reinforced Edge’s claim that the allegations on Facebook are untrue. She also said the Marine recruiters were not asked to leave the premises.

When asked what did transpire between the security and military officers that led to the Facebook comments, Bryant said she wasn’t there, so she couldn’t comment.

“I am not going to get into a ‘he said, she said’ situation,” Bryant said.

When asked if security even spoke the recruiters, Bryant declined to answer.

She said security reports are not open to the public, and said she wasn’t sure if the exchange actually generated a report.

Bryant said her entire Tuesday morning and afternoon were consumed with checking Facebook, taking calls and accepting visits — including some from veterans.

Bryant reiterated that the mall supports the military and that employees and area recruiters have discussed the interaction between security service personnel, and that she looks forward to future cooperative events.

Angel said that he has been in communication with Green Tree Mall employees since the incident.

“We are working with them to find out what we can and can’t do,” he said, adding that his perception of recruiting practices is something different from soliciting.